Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 3, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

10:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: defense secretary chuck hagel called on north korea to cool its rhetoric, after it barred hundreds of south korean workers from a factory complex on the border. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we examine the strategic and economic significance of the shutdown and the heightened tensions. >> ifill: then, we get two views about the safety of oil pipelines, after a rupture in arkansas last week forced the evacuation of more than 20 homes. >> woodruff: jeffrey brown examines the impact of across- the-board federal spending cuts
10:01 pm
on scientific research. >> ifill: john merrow reports on a kentucky school district that's spending less time testing students and more time on projects like building rockets. >> are they learning? yes. i feel like they're probably learning more than they ever would just sitting there hearing me tell them about a certain section of textbook. >> woodruff: we get the latest on an arizona man freed from prison after 42 years, when new evidence surfaced about his murder conviction. >> ifill: and we close with the story of a theater grp th brings shespeare's classics into schools, as a way to reduce teasing and teen violence. >> there's characters in the plays that are more the bullying type. there's some that are more the victims. it really lends itself to a conversation about all those roles. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
10:02 pm
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the mounting hostility on the korean peninsula took an economic turn today at a uster of factories jointly owned by the two countries. trucks filled with supplies and south korean workers waited in long lines at the border with the north today before being turned away. and some already on the other side couldn't go home.
10:03 pm
>> ( translated ): other people couldn't return because they were supposed to leave by trucks, which were scheduled to enter the north carrying supplies. however those trucks couldn't get in north korea. >> ifill: the kaesong industrial park is a rare example of economic cooperation between the two countries. it houses factories over 120 south korean companies, employs more than 50,000 north koreans. and hundreds more south koreans who commute across the heavily fortified border each week. south korean managers and workers feared the travel ban would cost jobs and hurt business far beyond kaesong. >> ( translated ): it's very serious. given the current situation, factory operations could have problems two to three days later and it will damage deliveries. >> ( translated ): it will cause >> ifill: south korea's unification minister urged kim jong un's government to reverse its decision. >> ( translated ): north korea's measure to suspend the industrial zone is an obstacle to the stable management of the zone. we urge the north to immediately
10:04 pm
normalize the access to the kaesong industrial zone. >> ifill: today's border action is the latest response to south korea's ongoing joint military exercises with the u.s. it comes a day after north korea announced it would restart production of nuclear weapon materials. and today north korean state television broadcast an undated video of what it said was an anti-american rally with thousands of students chanting "let's kill." south korea's defense minister advised the north to tamp down its rhetoric. >> ( translated ): i am warning north korea to stop its threats. i want to announce here that we have a full military readiness posture. it is important for the south korean people not to be agitated by north korea's threats, because we have a firm military posture. >> ifill: and, speaking in washington today, defense secretary chuck hagel said the
10:05 pm
u.s. must remain vigilant. >> i don't want to be the secretary of defense who was wrong once. so we will continue to take these threats seriously. i hope the north will rachet this very dangerous rhetoric down. there is a pathway that is responsible for the north to get on a path to peace, but they've got to be a responsible member of the world community. >> ifill: defense department officials announced this afternoon the u.s. is sending a land-based missile defense system to guam in response to rising north korean threats. in the past two days, the pentagon has also sent guided missile destroyers to the western pacific. >> ifill: for more on the escalating border tensions, we turn to former ambassador jack pritchard, who has been involved with korean peace negotiations for both presidents george w. bush and bill clinton.
10:06 pm
welcome. >> thanks veryuch. >> ifill: is the pressure shifting from military to economic now? >> not as much. but this is an unsettling development when you think about how important the kaesong industrial complex is to the north koreans. it's a source of hard currency for them and so shooting themselves in the foot for a longer period of time means they're going to be missing out on the kind of golden goose here. >> ifill: we saw south korean business people saying it could be a bad effect for them as well because of the supply chain that feeds kaesong. >> to put in the context, kaesong industrial complex produces about $500 million of merchandise each year: watches, shoes, clothes, things of that nature. it's a drop in the bucket when you take a look at the overall south korean economy, but for those 123 companies and the supply chains that are associated with it, it is a big deal for them. >> ifill: and symbolically, this was the fruit of the sunshine policy this idea which the north and south-- the
10:07 pm
previous presidents of the north and south-- could agree on something. is that dead now? >> i don't think it's dead but we've got to watch it very closely. as you rightly say, this was the product of the summit, the first summit between north and south in 2000, kim day jong and kim jong-il and opened in 2004 and has been operating for about nine years now. >> ifill: is this provocation or pot stirring or both? >> well, there's the interesting question. if it were not for a precedent that was set in 2010 with the sinking of the cho unanimous, a south korean ship by the north koreans and the artillery firing on the island later in that year you would say conventional wisdom says this will pass. there will be a return to normalcy. but that precedent suggests that you must watch what's going on. will it turn worse? >> ifill: now, this park, this particular complex, has been
10:08 pm
kind of a pawn in the geopolitical chess game before. it didn't have any lasting effect-- or did it? >> no, it didn't. about four years the north koreans did what they're doing now and they restricted access to south korean workers. strangely enough, in 2010 with the sinking of the ship and the artillery firing nothing happened at the kaesong industrial complex. so now we're back to saying, you know, what's going on, how long will that last, what's the impact and the political significance. >> ifill: should anybody watching this be worried that south korean workers who aren't being allowed to go across the boarder to go home be treated as hostages? >> that was a concern four years ago but so far what we're seeing today is the north koreans restricting access in but allowing south koreans out. so right now there's not a hint of the hostage situation but something the south koreans watch carefully.
10:09 pm
>> ifill: in intrapolitics this is a way of testing the new leader? >> well, the south koreans have a new president, she's been in office about five weeks so far so there's a little testing, but it's uninitial the sense that the north koreans hated the previous president, hard line, and saw in the election of madam park the potential of a partner. but they're not operating as though that's their intent. >> ifill: jay carney, the president's peres secretary, was asked about this on air force one and he said this is part of a if mill war pattern. you've been following this pattern for some years. does it feel different to you? >> as i say, the only difference is that precedent of almost three years ago. were it not for that, it would be a very familiar pattern. but you can not assume that it will follow previous events and end up with a reduction of tensions and a return to normalcy. >> ifill: it does not feel more dangerous to you? >> slightly more dangerous
10:10 pm
because you have a compounding of events that have taken place since december with the launch of a successful missile by north korea. their nuclear test in february, the u.n. security council's sanctions, it's come at a time where u.s. and south korean annual exercises are taking place. so there are a lot of things that are making this slightly different and potentially more dangerous than we've mean? the past. >> ifill: at the very least, it seems like the rhetoric is more heated. is china the solution? is there a back channel way to calm this down? >> we certainly hope so. we saw news reporting today that the chinese vice minister has spoken separately to the u.s. ambassador, the north korean ambassador and south korean ambassador. that's a good sign. there needs to be a pathway off of this rhetoric by north koreas and hopefully the chinese can provide some effort in this regard. >> ifill: ambassador jack it
10:11 pm
are chard, thank you so much. >> my pleasure, thank you. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": assessing the safety of oil pipelines; cutting funding for scientific research; teaching creativity and communication skills; releasing a convict after 42 years and learning lessons about bullying from shakespeare. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: at least 53 people died in a taliban attack in western afghanistan today. 34 of the victims were civilians, according to an afghan provincial governor. suicide bombers dressed as afghan troops raided a courthouse in farah province in an unsuccessful attempt to free insurgents on trial. afghan forces fired back in a gunbattle that raged for most of the day. it was the largest death toll from a single attack in afghanistan since 2011. tensions flared between palestinians and israelis in the heaviest exchange of gunfire since a truce last november. palestinian militants fired several rockets into southern israel and israeli aircraft fought back, bombing targets in the gaza strip. the strikes coincided with unrest in the west bank, where palestinians protested the death
10:12 pm
of a prisoner who died of cancer while in israeli custody. they accused israel of not giving him proper medical care. u. secretary of state john kerry leaves for a trip to the middle east this weekend. torrential rainfall in argentina led to massive flooding today, killing at least 41 people. most of the deaths were in the eastern city of la plata in buenos aires province. people there drowned after taking refuge in their cars overnight. the flooding completely covered streets, left thousands stranded and set off a fire at the nation's largest oil refinery that took hours to put out. the downpour dropped nearly 16 inches of rain on the region in two hours. president obama headed to colorado today to draw attention to thastate's newly ssed gun laws. colorado expanded background checks and put restrictions on magazine size. congress takes up gun legislation when it returns from recess next week. the president met with law enforcement officials at the denver police academy and then made his case for tougher national laws.
10:13 pm
>> surely we can have a debate that's not based on the notion somehow that your elected representatives are trying to do something to you other than potentially prevent another group of families from grieving the way the families of aurora or newtown or columbine have grieved. >> sreenivasan: connecticut's general assembly moved toward passing a tough new set of gun controls. members debated the legislation today, some of which will take effect immediately. it includes an expansion of the state's assault weapons ban and background checks for all firearms sales. governor dannel malloy has said he'll sign the legislation into law. it was widely reported today president obama is returning 5% of hisalary to the treury each month for the rest of the year. the president earns $400,000 annually. a white house official said it's a show of support for thousands of federal workers who face furlough because of automatic spending cuts.
10:14 pm
defense secretary chuck hagel is also taking a voluntary pay cut in solidarity with the pentagon's many civilian employees required to take unpaid leave. stocks fell sharply on wall street today, with the dow recording its worst day in more than a month. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 111 points to close at 14,550. the nasdaq fell 36 points to close at 3,218. korean automakers hyundai and kia are recalling nearly two million vehicles across the u.s. because of problems with air bags and brake light switches. the switch recall affects most of the automakers' lineups from model years 2007 through 2011. the air bag problem is on about 200,000 hyundai elantras. both companies said there have been no reports of crashes or injuries. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: next, how an oil spill near little rock, arkansas, is casting a shadow over the proposed expansion of the keystone pipeline. >> so that is a pipeline that
10:15 pm
has busted and has flooded the neighborhood. >> woodruff: a local resident described the scene in the small town of mayflower, on friday after exxon's pegasus pipeline ruptured close to his home. >> i mean, look! incredible and that is oil. >> woodruff: and not just any oil-- a type of heavy crude called diluted bitumen, from the tarands of western canada and similar to what the proposed keystone x.l. pipeline would carry. running from patoka, illinois to nederland, texas, the pegasus pipeline is capable of transporting 96,000 barrels of oil a day. it passes through this little rock suburb, and also through 13 miles of the close by lake maumelle watershed, leaving many concerned with the risks posed to arkansas' water supply.
10:16 pm
yesterday at a bird shelter in nearby russellville, specialists cleaned ducks covered in the heavy crude. investigators are still trying to find out what caused the rupture. according to exxon's estimates, between 3,500 and 5,000 barrels of oil spilled. more than 20 homes were evacuated. last year in the u.s., 364 pipeline spills occurred, resulting in the dumping of 54,000 barrels of oil, according to the department of transportation. the latest breach, while considered relatively small, raises new questions about the proposed keystone x.l. pipeline extension and whether president obama should approve it. it would carry 800,000 barrels a day of diluted bitumen crude over 1,700 miles, from the tar sands of western canada to refineries on the gulf coast of texas. environmentalists worry about
10:17 pm
potential spills, ruptures, and higher gaseous emissions from the use of tar sands oil. transcanada corporation and others have been awaiting approval for four years to move ahead with the project. a final decision from the president is expected this summer. we examine some of the questions raised in the wake of this spill with anthony swift, an attorney who closely follows pipeline safety for the natural resources defense council or n.r.d.c. and andrew black, the president of the association of oil pipelines. for the record, b.p. is a member of that group and a "newshour" underwriter. welcome to you both. so andy black, let me start with you. how serious is this pipeline rupture near little rock. >> well, no matter how rare a pipeline accident is, you don't want to see a scene like that. what an operator wants to do is respond quickly, clean up, and try to learn the cause. as you said, we don't know the
10:18 pm
cause yet. we want to share that that information to continue improving the safety records of pipelines which are the safest method of transporting crude oil. >> woodruff: anthony swift, how serious do you think this particular incident is. >> well, this was a spill of up to 200,000 gallons of tar sands crude. we saw it going through a suburban community in arkansas. it's a very serious spill. e.p.a. considers it a serious spill and, you know, frankly, we found that with tar sands spills these are spills that are more difficult to clean. a similar spill in kalamazoo, michigan, became the most expensive on shore pipeline spill in history, much because of the unique behavior of tar sands when it spills. >> woodruff: what are you saying? that there's something particularly complicated about this kind of oil? >> that's exactly right. the tar sands crude is a crude that s not -- is not similar to the crudes historically moved on the u.s. pipeline systems. it's basically a mixture of very thick bitumen, which is solid at room temperature and volatile
10:19 pm
petrochemicals that are very toxic once they reach the air. and once spilled you have a gasoff of the petrochemicals that expose residents to toxins and the bitumen itself then becomes heavier. if it reaches a water body it flows underneath it. it's hard to control. >> woodruff: andy black, how much more complicated, how much risk skwrer it to be sending this kind of bitumen crude across the country? >> it's no more complicated, judy. and u.s. pipeline incident record show that. with more than 40 years of moving crude oil from the canadian oil sands there's not been one pipeline accident in the united states caused by that. and -- caused by the type of crude from the canadian oil sands. and the department of state, when they've been exhaustively reviewing the keystone x.l. pipeline have simply found there's no more corrosive elements of crude from western canada as there are from california, venezuela, mexico.
10:20 pm
crude has been safely moved for decades. >> woodruff: if it's the case, why the additional concern on the parent of environmental groups? >> it's simply not true. we saw with the kalamazoo spill, 800,000 gallons were spilled from external corrosion. we don't know what caused the pegasus spill but we know the pipeline is moving tar sands diluted bitumen have had poor safety records. the first shipments came in the late '90s into the northe midwest. tho pipinesow over the last three years have spilled 3.6 times as much crude oil per pipeline mile as the national average. >> woodruff: in fact, we were seeing, andy black, as we just reported, 364 spills or ruptures in the country last year, and you heard that number of just this particular kind of tar sands crude. it sounds like the two of you are saying doesn't reconcile. >> well, two things, first i'd like to put that number in context. the 54,000 barrels spilled last year. that's out of 11.3 billion
10:21 pm
barrels of crude oil moved safely last year. crude oil and refined petroleum products. a reliable record that's 99.9995%. as to the accident in michigan, as mr. swift mentioned, that it was an external corrosion caused accident which the national transportation safety board said had nothing to do with the type of crude that it was carrying. >> woodruff: external corrosion meaning the outside of the pipeline rather than what was flowing through it? >> exactly. if there was a problem with canadian oil sands with corrosion it would have caused an internal corrosion accident and it didn't. and know no pipeline accidents from internal corrosion have occurred on pipelines carrying that crude from canada. >> woodruff: what about that? because that bears directly on what might happen with the keystone pipeline. >> that's right. and we flow small set of california pipelines that higher temperature pipelines spill more frequently due to external corrosion than conventional pipelines. if they're over 100 degrees they spill up to 23 times as often due to external corrosion.
10:22 pm
>> woodruff: so you're saying what is going through the pipeline affects what's happening -- >> around the pipeline. >> woodruff: outside of it. >> if you look at the state department study--ot ours, the state department's-- they say you need to look at that california study with caution. those are different design khark characteristics on a pipeline. again, no accidents on u.s. pipeline carrying oil sands crude caused by oil stands crude. >> he's stating that as a fact. >> and it's not. the n.t.s.b. did not say that the conditions under which the pipeline was operated based on what the crude -- what crude it was carrying had nothing to do with the accident. it just didn't weigh into it. and the state department hasn't studied this issue. pipeline regulators have said they haven't studied this issue. in fact, the head pipeline regulator told congress in 2011 that her agency couldn't guarantee that regulations were strong enough for diluted bitumen pipelines. >> woodruff: do you want to respond to that? >> i'm not going to disagree with the chairwoman of the national transportation safety board.
10:23 pm
and this issue is being studied by the national academy of sciences. if it's done fairly-- as i believe it will be-- it will show what the decades of experience have showed us: that there's not a concern for corrosion. it's in more corrosive than any heavy crude. >> woodruff: some people look at what's happening with the pipelines thatrun across ts country and say it's inevitable that they're going to be some spills, some ruptures, just by the very nature of what's going through these lines. >> well, we've seen -- i mean, the question is, are the risks worth the benefits? you take a look at pegasus and keystone x.l . pegasus is a pipeline a tenth of the capacity of keystone x.l . you build keystone kp +*l you have a ten times more significant risk? f there is a spill and what is the benefit to the u.s. public? you're dealing with a low-quality crude that increases climate emissions well above conventional crude, has increased risk to u.s. water bodies and communities and is meant to go through the u.s. in order to bring tar sands to gulf
10:24 pm
coast refineries which are now exports over three million barrels a day of refined products. >> woodruff: so he's making the argument against the keystone x.l. pipeline -- or expanding it. >> we have not reached the goal yet of zero pipeline accidents. the industry works hard for that. the safety record has improved. over the last ten years the number of accidents per miles of pipe has dropped 60%. the industry spent 1.1 billion dollars in just 2011 on this. it continues to work everyday on this. >> woodruff: making safer pipelines? working on the oil? how? how are they safer? >> we're building pipelines today safer than ever before using modern techniques, modern coating, modern welding practices and that's what keystone x.l. will have. but also the technology is improving to inspect pipelines and learn more about what is happening. all of that is contributing to -- again, that's 60% drop in
10:25 pm
accidents over the last ten years. >> woodruff: go ahead. >> i was just going say just take a look at trans-canada's first pipeline, keystone 1 in the midwest. it was a new pipeline in 2010 and it spilled 14 years in its first year of operation and had to be shut down by federal regulators. >> it has had a couple of accidents at facilities. the pipeline right of way has never been affected, the integrity of that pipeline has not been found at fault yet. i'd like that add, as you were mentioning, about keystone x.l. and anthony, the pipeline should be considered as an alternative to other mode of transporting crude oil, which our country need, that can move on rail, truck, barge. nobody disputes that pipelines are the safest method so if we're going to be bringing those barrels of crude oil into the u.s., it should be on a pipeline. >> woodruff: we're going to leave it there. andrew black, anthony swift, thank you. >> thank you, judy.
10:26 pm
>> ifill: now, our continuing coverage on the impact of across the board federal spending cuts kicking in this spring in washington and around the nation. tonight, jeffrey brown looks at what it means for science and research. >> brown: in the world of science, the government is a big player-- disbursing money for grants and research. with most federal agencies set to see reductions of roughly 5% of spending. that will mean cuts for the national institutes of health, the centers for disease control, the department of energy, nasa and other key players. matt hourihan has been tracking the immediate and potential impact. he's director of the r&d budget and policy program at the american association for the advancement of science. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: generally speaking, how big a deal is in in the world of government-supported scientific research in. >> it's a very big deal. a very big deal. we're looking at roughly $9.5 billion worth of r&d cuts this
10:27 pm
year as a result of sequestration. it's about -- those are cuts adding up to almost 7%. these are the largest cuts we've an actually mean? a single year in 40 years. >> brown: those are big numbers. explain how the funding works, maybe through a specific example or two. >> sure. well, there are a number of different agencies that have large science portfolios. so each one of those agencies receives its funding from congress every year. and there are a number of competitive grant programs and other mechanisms by which the federal government provides r&d funding to researchers at universities and elsewhere. again, generally through a competitive grant process and other mechanisms. and sequestration essentially lops off about -- almost 7% of that funding that's available. so, you know, rather than the $140 billion typical of federal r&d in recent years we're going
10:28 pm
see more like $130 billion. >> pelley: going to see more. are they feeling it already? are they taking action already? >> some are. some are. for instance, we know n.i.h., national institutes of health -- >> brown: which is a huge ayer? right? a lot of money. >> it's the largest nondefense funder of federal r&d in government and life sciences specifically. we know they've said they are going to reduce funding for continuing grants by about 10%. that's going to continue. and what that means is that researchers at universities -- and n.i.h. primarily funds university research -- researchers at universities are going to have to change their plans when it comes to their own research projects. we're likely going to see fewer opportunities for postdocs and graduate assistants. so that's kind of -- n.i.h. is certainly the big player. there are many others as well. >> brown: does n.i.h. control -- make those decisions about where the money is going to go
10:29 pm
or not going to go? >> yes. n.i.h. has a competitive peer review process so a number of experts look at each proposal and rate them based on scientific merit. and so it does come down to n.i.h. how many grants are going to be funded, what kinds of grants, what subject areas. what's not up to them is the amount of funding they have to distribute. that comes down to congress. >> brown: the argument out there-- and we've heard it on the program many times-- is that spending is out of control, that everybody has to take a cut, has to tighten their belt. this area as well as many other areas across the board in government. what's the response been to that in the scientific community. >> there's a couple responses. for one thing, in the past few years federal r&d has already declined by about 10%. we peake at about $155 billion in 2010.
10:30 pm
we're down about -- before sequestration we were down 10% from that high watermark. so we've already seen quite a bit of belt tightening on the part of federal science agencies and research institutions who are trying to plan their own project trajectories. so we're kind of at a point now where there isn't a whole lot of fat left to cut. and we're cutting past the fat into the muscle. the other thing i'd mentioned is that sequestration only actual covers about one-third of the federal budget. two-thirds of the federal budget-- which is what's known as mandatory spending, entitlements, things along those lines-- doesn't get touched by sequestration but that part of the budget is what's driving deficit growth. >> brown: would privately funded research not step into the breach at least in some cases of research? >> probably not. perhaps to some extent. there is a lot of talk in the university community about better partnering with private
10:31 pm
industry to help fund research. the problem with tt, ough, is that private r&d is very different from public r&d. private r&d, industrial r&d tends to be much more focused on product development, it'sless risky, it's short term, it's geared towards realizing returns in the near term whereas public r&d is much more focused on the kinds of basic and applied research projects that are much more longer term in nature, high risk, and, frankly, too risky for the private sector. >> brown: let me ask you very, very briefly. is the research community geari up to fight in this in some sense or they're giving into it and preparing for ways to deal with it? >> a little bit of both. research institutions are changing their plans. the number of universities that are -- we know are scaling back their admissions given the specter of reduced funding. at the same time, we do believe that what's needed is a more balanced approach to deficit reduction.
10:32 pm
that's been the big problem so far. >> brown: all right, matt human, thank yohourihan han, thy much. >> woodruff: it's science wednesday online. read about the impact of cuts on breast cancer experiments and research on rare diseases. >> ifill: the cheating scandal in atlanta is prompting questions again about testing and whether public schools are too focused on teaching to the test. but some places are trying new approaches. the "newshour's" special correspondent for education, john merrow, visited another school district in the south to see its model. >> reporter: odds are students in danvle, kentucky are attending classes that do not look like the ones you remember. they're learning how to make a guitar, design a presentation, debate an argument and more.
10:33 pm
>> do you know what germs are? >> reporter: jayden mays and her classmates created a project for their science class, using glitter to teach pre-schoolers how germs spread. >> so there are going to be our germs, you are going to act like these are germs, okay? so haley sneezed in her hand and she didn't wash her hands and now she's going to shake hands with everybody so shake haley's hand. look at all the little germs. >> reporter: this is not just science. these seventh graders are learning another set of skills: creativity, communication and teamwork. so you weren't just playing? >> no, we were actually teaching them a lesson in a fun way. >> reporter: why make it fun? >> they would enjoy it more and it would stay in their minds because they would remember, "oh that was fun, i enjoyed that." >> reporter: this seemingly simple lesson is an example of something far more complicated, called project based learning. it's one of many changes happening in a school district
10:34 pm
that wants to spend less time testing and more on what is now being called deeper learning. only about 1% of schools nationwide are committed to this approach. danville is a small district with just 1,800 students, 60% of whom live in low income households. but it's got big plans. danville wants to do something that few, if any, traditional school districts have ever done: transform teaching and learning in every classroom. for this to work, everything and everyone has to change. parents have to get on board. teachers need to learn new ways of teaching. students must adapt to new ways of learning. and test scores can't be if they go down, the reforms won't last. parents are often the hardest to convince that change is
10:35 pm
necessary, but not in danville. >> we were a part of a group of parents who came together and said, "enough is enough. we want better for our students." >> reporter: school reform is usually a last resort: things get so bad that schools have no other option. although danville's test scores were below the state average, the state isn't making them change, danville wants to do things differently. >> the world is changing. and i think as... as our kids get older and then try to take on leadership positions, just knowing facts and information isn't going to help them. >> teachers are... are taught, are forced to teach to the tests. i want my kids to do well on the s.a.t. and a.c.t. i want them to be in the top ten. but what i really want, i want them to be successful after they get out of college. >> reporter: when we met up with kelly rankin's son, jacob, he was learning to make a rocket. >> i love building, i love designing. i might want to be an engineer when i grow up. i don't know yet, i'm just a freshman. >> it started out as a nice, little project. but by the time he was done, he
10:36 pm
could tell me all the equations that went along with it. >> there's going to be problems that you'd never even think of, and the teacher, he'll, say i don't know. what do you think? >> knowing how to solve a problem or take a project and say, "i don't know all the... the answers to this. but i know how to work with other people to come to a solution." that's a life skill. >> reporter: based on our quick survey, parents seem enthusiastic about danville's plan for reform. but how do teachers feel? >> it's fun. the kids like it. and the teachers like it and you know, being active the kids get to do stuff. >> reporter: danny goodman teaches high school physics. >> today, they were doing math. we were talking about the standard frequency of... of a given guitar string. and then they've gotta then calculate the different positions of the different fretts in order to give different frequencies. hopefully this feels like fun and they don't even know they're
10:37 pm
learning. are they learning? yes. i feel like they're probably learning more than they ever would-- just sitting there hearing me tell them about a certain section of textbook. >> reporter: it may be fun, but it's also a lot more work. most teacher training doesn't cover project based learning, and so teachers like andrew groves are learning on the job. >> project based learning is something that i wasn't as familiar with until i really came here. and as a new teacher they said, "well, why don't you give it a shot, make one of your geometry classes project based." so i said, "okay, let me talk to some teachers who have done it." >> reporter: these 10th and 11th graders are creating city layouts and learning basic geometry in the process. >> we learned lines like transversal lines, congruent lines, parallel lines, we also learned like slope like y=mx+b and how you have to graph that to get your city to come together. >> being able to demonstrate mastery visually rather than a-b-c-d on a multiple choice
10:38 pm
test really shows that depth of knowledge, it pushes them to look for more real world applications in mathematics. >> reporter: but coming up with content-rich projects that students like isn't easy. >> it's a tough job, it's something that-- i'm still learning. i'm learni as m gog. >> i think it's fair to say everyone's going to have to change. yes. and everyone has to some degree, or some have gone. >> reporter: she's not kidding. since carmen coleman became superintendent in 2009, about 40% of the teachers have left the district. some by their own choice, some shown the door. >> this is not for everybody, but this is the direction that we're moving. >> reporter: it seems to be the right direction. danville's math and reading scores on state tests are up substantially. but danville is not ready to celebrate. >> we still are in this other system. and we have to follow the rules of the old system.
10:39 pm
>> reporter: that's the fourth and final hurdle, the tests. teaching and learning seem to be changing in danville, but the state is in charge of testing. so danville students are expected to work in teams, communicate effectively and learn to think critically, but still be able to do well on the states bubble tests. >> it's tough to play both games. it takes a lot of time for kids to discover something. it's very quick for me to say, "this is what it is. give it back to me tomorrow." and so right now the tests are built on a breadth of, you know, a wide scope of curriculum. if you're going through that discovery method where the kids are discovering it themselves, it's gonna take more time. and so you might not be able to get through as much, but you can get through it in more detail. >> reporter: the state tests breadth, but danville wants depth. would you just as soon get rid of those state tests? >> yeah, i really would. >> reporter: the district would rather be held accountable by its scores on the a.c.t., a national test similar to the
10:40 pm
s.a.t., that's recognized as a good measure of college readiness. >> so you're really asking for your own set of rules. >> we are. we are asking for our own set of rules. >> reporter: that could happen. in the next few weeks, kentucky may designate danville a district of innovation, which could give it more say over how its students are evaluated. >> woodruff: a deadly fire at an historic hotel, a guilty verdict for a teenager, and now-- more than 40 years later-- freedom for the man convicted of murder. >> this is a tale of two tragedies, man. you know, the 29 poor souls that lost their lives there, and my conviction. >> woodruff: for louis taylor, today was the first day in more than four decades that began outside a prison cell. taylor had been behind bars since he was a teenager,
10:41 pm
convicted of starting a fire in 1970 at tucson's pioneer hotel, that left 29 people dead. now 58, taylor was released yesterday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, after new evidence surfaced questioning his guilt. >> how do you plead: guilty, not guilty or no contest? >> no contest. >> woodruff: taylor maintained his innocence today. by entering a no contest plea he gained his immediate release, but he also gave up the opportunity to seek compensation from the state. >> i wasn't going to give them another minute, another hour, another decade. you know, i wanted out. the whole world knows i'm innocent. >> woodruff: prosecutors said yesterday they still believe taylor is guilty, but cited factors that would make a new trial difficult. >> both the arson review committee and the tucson fire department investigators concluded that because of the lapse of time, the evidence no longer being available, the fact
10:42 pm
that some of it was degraded, some of it was missing, some of it had been destroyed, that the cause of the fire could not be determined at this time. in other words, they were unable >> woodff: ylor relea came just days after a follow up to a 2002 "60 minutes" report cast doubts as to whether the fire was, in fact, arson. taylor's lawyers alleged prosecutors committed misconduct in the original trial by neglecting to inform the defense team that no accelerants were found at the hotel. for more on this story, we are joined by richard ruelas. he is a reporter with the arizona republic and was in the courtroom yesterday. welcome to the program. remind us, why was mr. taylor, louis taylor, convicted in the first place? >> he was there at the fire that night. good evening. he was there at the fire that night, december, 1970. he told us today he was going there to attend some parties, maybe get some free food and drinks. he was kind of a juvenile
10:43 pm
delinquent in the area and known to police. the fire starts and he ends up helping people out of the hotel but as police are looking for suspects he made some odd statements, he couldn't quite explain what he was doing at the hotel, they found matches on him and pice tk him in fo several hours of questioning and arrested him. >> woodruff: and what was the new evidence that ultimately caused the law enforcement system to give him this chance to get out? >> it's not so much newly discovered evidence but a new way of looking at the evidence. the science of fire has changed so much since 1970. one fire expert told me this week that the old way of determining arson was pretty much guess work but science had determined ways of finding out when there's a flashover fire and things that might have looked like arson before now might have been caused by an accident or something else like
10:44 pm
that. so experts now looking at the evidence, his defense attorneys say would have not been able to say it was arson and might have determined it being an accidental fire. >> brown: as we just heard, richard ruelas, prosecutors say they believe he's still guilty. he says he's innocent. does a cloud hang over this from now on? >> there's a gap between being able to take a case to court and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and being able to actually exonerate somebody. legally, he is a convicted felon and he has the legal responsibility for what happened. his "no contest" plea allows him to maintain his innocence but it has the legal weight of a conviction. he says that he didn't do it and that he was wrongly convicted and there's a lot of evidence around the trial, withholding of the lack of accelerant being found. prosecutors didn't tell that to the defense. they might have jumped to a conclusion that it wasouis taylor based on his race was one
10:45 pm
allegation. and the faulty science about thearson. then again, there are people who will say louis taylor made a lot of inconsistent statements to police and there were those books of matches he had on his person that are kind of unexplained. >> woodruff: tell us wha what it was like in the courtroom yesterday. >> it really seemed to open up some wounds for the relatives of victims who were in the front row of the gallery of the courthouse, the courtroom. one of them chose to make a statement on bhalf of all 29 victims. he said he didn't want them to just be a list of names. he was four years old when his father died in the fire and he let louis taylor know he bore no ill will against him and he hoped he didn't waste his new beginning. taylor told us today that during the hearing he wanted to hug that man but his lawyers told him he needed to maintain and he said he wanted the hearing to be
10:46 pm
over with as soon as possible because as you heard him say on the clip he didn't want to giv the state of iza one mre minute, one more hour of his time. >> woodruff: other than the here is drama of this case, what is the importance of it. >> well, if conviction was overturned based on faulty science from the '70s and -- from the '70s, there's other arson cases from the '70s and '80s that might be reexamined under the new ways of looking at fire science. so there might be more of these cases coming down the pike. >> brow what happens to louis taylor. he's been in prison for 42 years. i read that he had very few family members, i guess just a niece was in court yesterday. what happens to him? is there a system to help him acclimate back to the rest of the world? >> there is no formal system because, you know, the
10:47 pm
department of corrections, if they know you're going to be released, might help you reacclimate. but the attorneys who worked on his behalf to get him out have turned into ad hoc social workerstrying to set him up with a place to live in phoenix and help him reacclimate himself. this is a man who was a grade school dropout, he spent a lot of years in juvenile detention and reform schools. he was called incorrigible. and he spent his adult years behind bars and he said he picked up a lot of bad habits doing so. and this was a man who didn't ever think he would really face the possibility of release. so he learned some skills behind bars. he learned how to be a barber. he was a seem stress for a while. and he learned how to be a medic technici and he's going to have to hope that employers look beyond what is a felony conviction and maybe give him a chance at getting a job. >> brown: remarkable story. richard ruelas, thank you very much. >> thank you, good evening.
10:48 pm
>> ifill: finally tonight, to the latest in our series on high school dropouts, this time through the words of the bard, william shakespeare. nearly half of all students experience some sort of bullying, a university of virginistudlast year showed the more bullying in a school, the lower its graduation rates. in colorado, actors and educators are teaming up with an unusual solution. jeff is back with the story, part of our american graduate project. >> prospero had been wronged. he seethed. he burned. he wanted revenge. >> reporter: shakespeare's prospero, one of the great characters in world literature, is a man with good reason to seek retribution. and as "the tempest" begins, he's conjured up a storm to shipwreck his brother and the king of milan, after they had wronged him. in one reading of the 400-year-
10:49 pm
old tale, it depicts a classic cycle of violence, where the victim becomes the perpetrator of evil deeds. that is, until this moment in the play when prospero realizes there is another choice. >> the rarer action is in virtue, not vengeance. >> reporter: this was the colorado shakespeare festival on a recent visit to thornton high school just north of denver, presenting an adaptation of the play with a very specific goal: as part of an anti-bullying program aimed at reducing teen and pre-teen violence. director tim orr says using shakespeare is a natural choice. >> shakespeare is an expert in violence. there is so much violence and intimidation. and he explores every possible way: family violence, nation violence, kings and queens,
10:50 pm
husbands and wives, children and parents. romeo and juliet starts out with the thing that shakespeare does so well, he always shows the moment of choice that these characters had. they could have gone that way or they could have gone this way. and if you keep going this way, this is what eventually happens. >> reporter: the idea was conceived two years ago by the theater group in conjuction with the university of colorado's center for the study and prevention of violence. by the end of this school year, nearly 150 schools will have participated, involving 30,000 students from all grade levels. beverly kingston, who heads the center, says the idea is to get students thinking and talking about the various roles people play in bullying situations. >> it's so amazing that shakespeare wrote this so long ago but there really is a place in it for everyone. there's characters who are more the bullying type. there's some that are the victims, some that are the
10:51 pm
bystanders. and so it lends itself to a conversation about all those roles. and how changing all those roles >> reporter: last year, the program featured "twelfth night" with the tormented character of malvolio, servant to a rich countess. crystal eisele is one of the actors. >> poor malvolio gets bullied beyond belief. he's asked to wear crazy things. he's given a note from people who say it's from somebody else and that so and so likes you. this happens all the time in schools. >> reporter: these days, of course, it happens in forms not known to shakespeare, including cyber-bullying. and in this version of "twelfth night", that harrassing note arrives on malvolio's cellphone. >> oh, it is my lady's tweet. >> reporter: after the hour- long, abridged performances, the actors lead small-group
10:52 pm
workshops to get students to role play modern day scenarios. >> i'll kill you, you almost got me caught! i'm going to get in trouble! you know what my dad's going to do to me? >> within the workshop we focus on what is in your world? what do you see that you are dealing with, where the cycle of violence is continuing? and we ask them first, what do you know works? >> these are basic, basic acting exercises that we have taken to the classroom and applied to this situation. that's all acting is: taking situational material, changing the outcome, making the choices. >> reporter: ninth graders stephen banks and jade trujillo say they could very much relate to the characters in "the
10:53 pm
tempest." >> but if everyone chooses virtue, it would be way better because it's the better way to go. if you get revenge on someone, it's not going to fix anything, it's going to make you feel bad and escalate into something worse. >> like ariel told prospero that he should forgive them-- his brother and the king. it's one of those things, if you see something happening to somebody else, you should stand up and tell them to leave them alone. >> reporter: thornton language arts teacher cheryl newey says she's under no illusions that a two hour shakespeare session will change a school climate overnight. but she thinks it's a useful tool to encourage students to speak up. >> ironically, the kids who spoke out in the workshop session are kids who i would say are kind of on the fringe. and i thought it was interesting
10:54 pm
that they felt comfortable raising their hands and asking james many questions. whereas many of the kids who were more popular, they were more quiet. >> reporter: crystal eisele says she is often approached by students who say the workshop has helped them realize they have other choices than violence. she described an encounter with one young man earlier this year. >> he said, "i saw myself in that ariel character in 'the tempest', that is trying to make everything better but at the same time is enslaved." and he gave me some specifics about his world and what was going on and what he was doing to solve the situation. >> reporter: it's certainly not the first time shakespeare has been adapted to speak to contemporary issues and the program's creators say they're
10:55 pm
hopel theater companies in other cities will adopt similar programs. >> ifill: american graduate is funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: the pentagon announced plans to deploy a missile defense system to guam, in the face of escalating nuclear threats from north korea. nine suicide bombers dressed as and president obama pressed congress to adopt new gun laws that include background checks. >> ifill: online, teaching a and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we talk with former justice sandra day o'connor about pivotal moments in the history of the supreme crt. i'gwen ifill. >> odru: ani'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
10:56 pm
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> support also comes from carnegie corporation of new york, a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thankou. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
10:57 pm
10:58 pm
10:59 pm

61 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on